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Supermarket chain A&P debuts mobile coupons with brand participation

Supermarket chain A&P tapped digital incentive and information management company Zavers to offer SMS-based mobile couponing at participating A&P grocery stores. 

Several national brands have begun using Zavers’ mobile platform as part of the Red Tag Online Savings program at A&P, Waldbaum’s and SuperFresh, the Online Advantage Program at Pathmark and the Fresh Online Savings program at The Food Emporium. Participating brands include Unilever, Kimberly-Clark, the Quaker Oats Co. and Bayer Healthcare.

“A&P and Zavers believe it should be easier for consumers to save on the products they want, regardless of the screen they want to use,” said Anita Newton, chief marketing officer at Zavers, Kansas City, KS. “In 2009, together we launched an online service where consumers save coupons into a centralized digital wallet directly linked to their loyalty card.

“Mobile works exactly the same way and is a natural extension of this strategy,” she said. “Additionally, mobile has the added appeal of targeting new users, using a low cost channel to stimulate impulse purchases in the store, and providing real time offers, response, and results.

“These benefits are made even more appealing given the seamless process at the point of sale.”

Founded in 1859, A&P is one of the nation’s first supermarket chains.

The company operates 433 stores in eight states and the District of Columbia under the following trade names: A&P, Waldbaum’s, Pathmark, Best Cellars, The Food Emporium, Super Foodmart, SuperFresh and Food Basics.

Zavers offers paperless coupons on mobile phones and on the Internet so consumers can save on the products they want at their favorite stores.

Mobile coupons reaching the mass market
The partners claim that mobile coupons, discount offers stored on a wireless device, are seeing increased usage, but are still considered too unwieldy for widespread adoption.

Zavers claims that its mobile technology effectively removes those negatives by offering consumers a simple text-and-save experience.

When consumers sign up for A&P’s 100 percent paperless, digital coupons, they are prompted with the option to receive coupons and discounts via their mobile phone number.

Essentially, an A&P shopper who has opted in receives an offer via text message and replies with a code.

The coupon is automatically deposited in the customer’s Zavers-powered account, which is already linked to the retail store’s shopper loyalty program.

The shopper picks up the product, and at check-out swipes the loyalty savings card, something he or she is already used to doing.

The coupon amount is automatically and instantly deducted from the bill and the savings are printed on the receipt.

Zavers claims that the user experience of SMS-based coupons translates to increased loyalty and customer satisfaction, which benefits both product advertisers and retailers.

“With SMS-based mobile coupons, consumers can save money and even more importantly, save time,” Ms. Newton said. “In the paper world, users must cut, store, file and remember to retrieve the coupons at point of sale.

“With mobile, consumers simply respond to a text message and the coupons are automatically deposited to the shoppers account which is directly tied to their loyalty card,” she said. “Accordingly, at the cash register, consumers do not have to pull out a wad of coupons and suffer the embarrassment of slowing down the checkout lane.”

Mr. Newton said that not only are mobile coupons easier to distribute and redeem, but they are better for the environment.

“Instead, the shopper simply hands the cashier her loyalty card and her savings are removed automatically and instantly from her bill and printed on her receipt,” Ms. Newton said. “Not only is this process fast and easy, it is a much greener way to save money as well, because no trees are killed to create and distribute paper coupons.”

Additionally, the Zavers platform provides advertisers with measurement of their promotional efforts beyond clicks and views, including which offers are leading to the sale of a product in a retail store.

Zavers claims that unlike other technologies that require cashiers to manually enter a series of numbers or scan multiple bar codes, Zavers’ mobile coupons are automatically linked to the retailer’s loyalty card so the process is seamless and scalable.

Consumer interest in Zavers’ paperless coupon technology has been strong, with some redemption rates as high as 45 percent, compared to around 1 percent for paper-based coupons.

This is expected to only increase with the growth of mobile programs in various sectors.  

“Many of our CPG clients have expressed interest in offering discounts via text message,” Ms. Newton said. “They tell us they are interested in the ability to target a new generation of shopper that is increasingly turning to online and mobile media sources for product information and savings opportunities.”

In addition, Zavers can tell an advertiser if a coupon actually led to a sale of a product in the store.

“This ability to close the digital loop for our CPG clients is a big  difference maker,” Ms. Newton said. “Currently, we are partnering with a few national brands, with more to follow soon.

“These brands represent a cross section of products in dairy, snacks, health and beauty,” she said.